APH 2003, 61, 249-269:

A new female condom: women's opinions and strategies of promotion for public health.

D. Deliège

Keywords: female condom, contraceptive method, safe sex, prevention, reproductive health, women

Background: Unprotected intercourse may have noxious effects: health problems related to reproduction, infections and excessive population growth. Condoms contribute to alleviate such problems. Their use has increased, but unmet needs are still important.

Aim: To analyze the potential acceptance of a new type of female condom and to discuss the results, particularly in connection with promotion strategies in the context of public health programmes.

Method: Survey among 318 women in Brussels. Composite indices have been conceived, enabling to summarize answers pertaining to common topics. Chi square tests and logistic regressions enable to compare subgroups and to identify explaining variables.

Results: Various indicators of acceptance of the new female condom are congruent, e.g. perceived overall interest, propensity of advising it, potential use and intended frequency of use. Such indicators of acceptance Increase when stated advantages are more appreciated. Potential use is also linked to the use of male condoms, but hardly to various indicators of risk.

International literature presents strategies for promoting condoms through commercial channels or through public health programmes. They include: extended choice, improved distribution, sex education and campaigns for information, improving skills and behaviour change. Such strategies should be differentiated according to target groups and supported by structural measures at overall level, inter alia in the field of women's status.

Conclusion: The female condom may add to the variety of choice and thus contribute to safe sex in general; the first contact with a group of urban women shows a rather good potential acceptance among that population.